X-Cardio for the Mountains: Week #4


Test Day is next week! Be prepared! Hydrate! Don’t hit the burrito bar 20 minutes before class!

Big change today. The jumprope row didn’t get any breaks. They had to switch between speed rope, lateral hops, and high knees every 30 seconds. For 4.5 minutes. Without stopping.


There were a lot of classics to tackle today as well as some motor skill acquisition with the Goat Flip Lunge.

The Mystery Event is where things got interesting. We started with a typical Greased Lightning Round (30 seconds each, no rest). But after that was over we had some extra time on our hands.

New Game: Quid Pro Quo. Something for Something. So here is how it works. During the Greased Lightning Round you take note of the highest heart rate you’ve achieved. For some this was upwards of around 97-98% of their max. When QPQ starts basically you have to hit that number again doing either high knees or flying chickens. If class had been full today I would have owed some folks a margarita.

See ya next time!

Coach CWall

Strength Promotes Confidence: Finger & Upper Body Power: Week #3


Hey there,

   No new exercises today. In fact there were a lot of things that didn’t change. Same reps, same rests, same same same. . . but different.
   We managed 9 sets of exercise today. Tried for 10, but time didn’t allow for it. Round 1 saw 5 sets and Round 2 saw 4.
   Next week is the last week of this cycle. Everyone needs to be prepared for a lot of heavy sets!

See you there!

Coach CWall

CWall Level 1: Week #7


Hey there,

   Two weeks until Test Day! That means we are ramping things up. We’ve dropped from 15 sets per round down to 12 so we have room for a Mystery Event during the 4th quarter.
   There were a high concentration of bodyweight exercises, as well as a 2-1 ratio for the highly metabolic vs. local muscle group exercises. High heart rates all around.

   We did have to have little discussion about starting on time, each and every round. But that is nothing new.

   The Mystery Event was a game of False Summit. Random exercise selection, you don’t know for how long, and just when you think you are at the end, BLAMMO! More work to be done. Today there was a special twist: You weren’t allowed to leave class until you got your heart rate up to 93%!

   See ya next time.

Coach CWall

CWall Level 2: Week #6


Hey there,

   Level 2. More like Level 3. Ruthless. We brought back some classics as well as introduced what will hopefully become one. The alternating kettlebell clean is harder than it looks and takes a lot of timing and consistent power output to do correctly. The wobbly wrist roller is a balance problem that knocks everyone down on occasion. The new arrival is the Goat Flip Lunge. Taking a bulgarian bag, snatching it off the floor, flipping it in mid air for the open handed catch, followed by two lunges, placing it back in the rack position before pushing it back down to the floor for a squat thrust. Lots of coordination and power.

   What did we learn today? We learned that CrossFits Fight Gone Wrong done for 3 rounds as our Mystery Event takes everyone down. No one, and I mean no one was able to keep moving the entire time. I guess that’s what a fight gone wrong is supposed to feel like.

   We also had some lively discussion on the do’s and don’ts of Valentines Day, as well as when you should consider not starting a new relationship (October 1st – February 15th).

   See you next time!

Coach CWall

X-Cardio for the Mountains: Week #3 & 4

2/14 and 2/15, 2012

Hey there,

   Rough. Both classes. Rough. Especially today’s noon class. Damn. 12 people. All motivated by a single goal. . .

              12 x 93% = Margarita

The two classes that have managed it in the past have been noon classes. One class hit it on Round 2. The other on Round 3.

Today Round 2 looked promising. 11 out of 12 hit 93% at the same time, with #12 at 91%. Not bad. And I barely raised my voice (really!). I thought we might have a winner by the next round. By the 7th set we were 11 out of 12, with #12 at 91%. Same for the 8th set. And on the ninth, as the clock wound down, we had 11 out of 12 at or above 93%, and our 12th at 92%.

DAMMIT! So close. . .

We finished up with a Greased Lightning Round. 30 seconds on each exercise, 7 second transition time (yes, I made it longer). The goal is to get started on the next exercise before the timer says go.

It’s amazing. People are like the atomic clock when it comes to stopping on time. But when it comes to starting on time? Well. . .

See you next time. . .

Coach CWall

CWall Strength Promotes Confidence: Finger & Upper Body Power: Week #2


Hey there,

   SPC was a bit of a rush job today due to some technical difficulties with out printer. But everyone handled it in stride, and many stayed after class to get in a few extra sets.

   The Hangboard was the staple of our workout once again, having the marquis spot in each round for a total of 8 sets.

   We added the alternating military press into Round #1 and the Pinch Switch in to Round #2. The alternating military press is easy to wrap the mind around with your hands moving like a seesaw doing a standing military press with kettlebells. The pinch switch is a little harder to grasp (no pun intended;-). Taking the steel 3 inch pinch grip and affixing four 3LB chains to it (4 feet in length), you do a dynamic switch from one hand to the other, like playing catch from hand to hand. The higher you lift the pinch, the more chain there is off of the ground, and thus the heavier the pinch. Very coordinated. Crazy pinching fun.

   A word about tempo. There is no one “correct” tempo for exercise. Depending on what you are trying to cultivate and what variables you are trying to control, there are several. Sometimes super slow. Sometimes super fast. Often somewhere in between. But if you are not considering it in some way, or you think that they are all the same, then you are falling into the trap that many fitness enthusiasts and trainers alike are ensnared in. If you don’t keep track of your variables (i.e. range of motion, reps, sets, load, posture, tempo, etc.) it will be very difficult to determine whether you are actually progressing or whether you are just compensating effectively. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are getting better if you don’t have good data to back it up. We have to compare apples to apples my friends.

   See you next time!

Coach CWall

Weekly Monday Gear Review: Black Diamond Stinger

The Black Diamond Stinger crampon is the latest entry to the lightweight, steep ice and mixed category from our friends at BD.

This crampon is designed for anything and everything from steep waterfalls to mixed, roadside or alpine.

Stainless steel construction keeps the weight at 2 lbs. and the asymmetric platform fits my low-volume, modern ice boots perfectly. The hooded monopoints and aggressive secondary points guarantee security on any type of ice.

For me, as someone who has used BD crampons for years, one specific improvement stood out. They managed to significantly improve the fit of both the toe bails and heel wires by decreasing the profile of each. This makes a huuuge difference when you’ve got your feet jammed into cracks or when shuffling foot placements in tight quarters.

Also worth mentioning are the durable anti-bots that are included as well as the ability to easily change out the monopoint once it wears down.

For the alpinists out there….all hardware is easily replaceable and these crampons are some of the quickest to adjust or repair out of any that I’ve tried.

If you’re looking for a crampon to take you through the rest of the water ice season here in Colorado and continue well into spring alpine climbing here in the Park or abroad, look no further.

-Mike Soucy
Colorado Mountain School Guide
800-836-4008 x3

CWall Level 2 Test Day #2: 2/9/12

Hey there,

   Here we have our first comparative Test Days! The only thing that we will be comparing for these two is the very end of class: Peaks and Valleys. Hopefully everyone has more even and frequent peaks!
Check it out:

The HR monitor sign out sheet for 1/12/12.

Results from 1/12/12:

The HR monitor sign out sheet for 2/9/12.

Results from 2/9/12

CWall Strength Promotes Confidence: Feats of Strength Week #2 2/9/12

Hey there,

   Today in SPC we revisited the same plan as last week. A little more “skill building” if you will. We managed a 4 set per exercise workout today with a little extra time during sets one and two to help some of the newcomers get the swing of things and learn the secret handshake. We explored a new tempo for sets 3 and 4. 5 seconds in total per repetition. This meant that the concentric contraction (shortening of the agonist muscles, i.e. the press portion of the military press) took place over 3 seconds, and the eccentric contraction (lengthening of the agonist muscles, i.e. the lowering portion of the military press) over 2 seconds. In general everyone fared pretty well. We’ve got some improvements in technique and some more understanding of what our goals actually are during class. Everyone did a great job. But things are getting heavy, and it’s not going to get easier.

See you next time!

Coach CWall

CWall X-Cardio for the Mountains: Week #2

Hey there,

   Here we are already on week #2. Our first workout post Test Day was a very high volume skill building day. We’ve started to incorporate more upper body strength work for the rock and ice climbers, as well as the agility work and lower body work for those tricky approaches and long tours. We managed 5 sets of each exercise in total for a whopping 60 sets in 45 minutes! Lot’s of folks hit and passed the anaerobic threshold today and stayed there for a lot longer than they thought they could. Because of the huge number of sets there was no Mystery Event. But don’t worry. Look for one next week!

See you there!

Coach CWall

X-Cardio for the Mountains: Test Day 2/7/12

Hey there,

   Test day for the evening class. Sweet, and a little sour. Remember to cross reference your HR monitor sign out sheet with the results. What we are looking for here is:

a) total time spent in the yellow and red zones
b) number of peaks at the end of the bar graph

Even peaks of about the same level are ideal. Plateaus show some room for improvement.

Here are the results:

Strength Promotes Confidence: Finger & Upper Body Power Week #1

Hey there,

   Today was the start of our 4 week Finger and Upper Body Power training cycle. We upped the temp on a lot of the exercises and we changed some things around from our Strength phase. Most importantly we introduced the hang board to our training routine. 8 second 1 handed assisted hangs were the order of the day. We divided all the other exercises into two rounds with 4 sets of each. The hang board was part of both groups, which meant a whopping 8 sets. Damn.

This was a great first day. Next week will be more of the same, only a little bit harder with maybe a new addition or two.

See you there!

Coach CWall

CWall Level 1: Test Day (again) 2/6/12

I love test day! Especially when the technology doesn’t betray us!

This time it worked! I have the data that I so desperately desire! Here it is. Don’t forget to cross reference your HR monitor sign out with your data.
This was a scorcher of a test day. Class was full, so the Margarita Challenge was in effect. Hard to achieve on a test day. And it seems that my tequila supply is still safe.
If I had to give some advice for how to to better on the next test day I would say find the round (1-4) that had the lowest heart rates. Those are your crux exercises, especially the heart rate driving ones. Each round had one of these. Round 1 was kick thrus, Round 2 was mountain climbers, Round 3 was flying chickens, and Round 4 was split jumps. 
Peaks & Valleys is a bear, no matter who you are. But it is the acme of skill to just barely hit your HR peak of 93% and not go over. Some of our athletes can tell you, to the burpee, how many they have to do to hit 93%. This takes a lot of awareness. Overshooting the mark is not the point here. Accuracy and awareness is. And don’t forget, Peaks & Valleys is not a “pace yourself” kind of thing. Hit the ground running. . . charge right out of the gate. Otherwise you’ll have a hard time hitting that first ALL IMPORTANT peak. 
No peak = no rest = THIS SUCKS.
Here is what we are looking for as improvement over time:
1) more time spent in the yellow and red zones
2) more peaks and valleys at the end of class
Pretty simple.

CWall Level 2: Week #4 2/2/12

Hey all,

   A scorcher. It’s the week before test week, and I wanted to set you up for success. Not a gimme in the bunch. No chance to get it back. Hopefully the hardest thing that everyone had to deal with all week. Because next week is test week.

   The Bag Drag was fun. 80lb Heavy bag. Take it for a drag why don’t you.

   The Burtle Pushup (CWall Laboratories) is a coordination nightmare. Part Turtle Squat, part burpee, part pushup, all spliced together like an calisthenic Frankenstien’s Monster.

   Everything else was par for the course. They are not fun. Not meant to be.

   The Mystery Event was an old school Lightning Round, just like back in the day. 40 sec. on, 20 sec. off. Repeating all 12 exercises. No HR incentive. Just go. As hard as you can. This is often confused with “as hard as I feel like it.” The former is correct. The latter, well not so much. Let’s not get confused and start thinking that you don’t have a choice how hard you go just because you are a little tired. Mostly people start to fold up not because they are too tired, but because THEY ALLOW THEMSELVES TO SUCCUMB TO THE SELF-PITY THAT COMES WITH THE DISCOMFORT THEY ASSOCIATE WITH FATIGUE. Let’s be clear about that.

See you next time!
Coach CWall

CWall Strength Promotes Confidence: Feats of Strength Week #1 2/2/12

Hey all,

   Today was the start of week #1 for Feats of Strength. We’ve moved away from Foundations and are now getting more serious about our acquisition of strength. The exercises are pretty simple, the reps are fewer, we will be upping our sets every week, and the loads are A LOT bigger. 

   3-5 reps was the order of the day, trying to finish feeling like you had a rep or 2 to spare. Remember kids, we are strength training. As in trying to get stronger. As in THAT IS THE GOAL. Not to be confused with other types of conditioning, we are not working on your anaerobic threshold, lactate clearance, aerobic capacity, etc. etc. etc. Maximal tension, minimal muscle damage. You know. . . strength training.

As you can see, the exercises are pretty simple. Amazing how easy it is to compensate with such simple motions. We stuck to a 2:5 tempo and focused on what it means to stop at the right time. A lot of unlearning to do from what I could see. Anyone that ground to a halt in mid rep got barked at.

Next week, well, it just gets heavier. And heavier. And heavier.

   Let’s keep our eyes on the prize folks. Keep your focus clear. Don’t confuse apples for oranges.

See you next time!
Coach CWall

X-Cardio For the Mountains: Test Day 2/1/12

I love test day. 
A nice way to check in. See where we’re at. Clear the cobwebs. And that we did. Don’t forget, this is a new training cycle, and this was Test Day 1 of 3. This is a nine week training cycle for this program. We are intent on keeping everyone fit for their skiing, but also getting a jump start on the late winter and spring mountaineering.
I hate all non-Apple computers. Not sure why, because there are so many other things that I don’t understand and bear no ill will towards. But PC’s. Grrrrr. My animosity this time is due to the fact that the results from this Test Day are NO WHERE TO BE FOUND! Gone. Zoink. Poof.  
Sorry about that. Human error most likely. But I am going to continue to blame Microsoft.

 The class was a pretty standard test day. The Peaks and Valleys portion was a combo of 3 exercises instead of just one. I chose this because of the more varied demands of Mountaineering. There was about a minute of rest between each group of 3. We took another minute before the game of Peaks and Valleys. 10 minutes was a long time to contend with, and by and large everyone managed pretty well.

 If you are feeling game, you should give it a shot on your own. Or show up next Wednesday. I’m gonna do it again. We need some data to make some comparisons. The only way to get it is to collect it. And it’s not like everyone doesn’t need the practice.

See you next time!

Coach CWall

Weekly Gear Review: BCA Float Airbags

Backcountry skiing is dangerous, especially this year where we live. So far, I’ve witnessed one of the more hazardous and unpredictable snowpacks that I’ve ever seen. But no matter the location or the stability, we all accept a certain level of risk in chasing the pow that takes us out of the sterility of the ski area to begin with. One rider’s acceptable risk might be vastly different from another’s. However, I think we can all agree that avoiding avalanche burial is the desired outcome.

Enter the Backcountry Access (BCA) Float Pack. It is one of several airbag packs that operate on the Brazil nut effect. This states that larger objects tend to stay on top of smaller ones while in turbulence (avalanche). When deployed, you become the nut, and theoretically, remain on top of the avalanche debris. This theory is being increasingly tested by one successful “save” after another. The most recent took place here in Colorado:
These packs have two distinct shortcomings. They are heavy- about twice the weight of a comparable pack without a Float system. And they are expensive. However, each additional save that’s attributed to this pack makes these criticisms less viable in my book.
There are three different Float packs available from BCA. I prefer the 36 liter model, which is built for folks that need the additional volume of a larger daypack. For 2011/12, BCA fine-tuned this pack to include all of the features that make their other packs so great. The pack includes ample storage space, back panel access, internal shovel/probe pockets, waist belt pockets, ski and snowboard carry system, lined goggle pocket and hydration sleeve. The internal frame and load lifter straps make the additional weight of the pack quite manageable.
I believe that in the near future, we will see these packs become a standard part of our avalanche rescue kits. But with such a great option out there now, why wait? We should continue to make smart and conservative decisions in the backcountry, but we’re all prone to the same errors that catch people in avalanches. Stacking the odds in your favor is never a bad thing.
-Mike Soucy
Colorado Mountain School Guide
AIARE Level 1 Instructor
800-836-4008 x3

CWall Level 2: Week #3

Hey there,

   I was really excited about tonights class. I not only got to bring back a couple of classic exercises that we haven’t done in a really long time, but I also got to introduce a couple of new things from the CWall laboratory.

We haven’t Deadlifted in a while, and there were several options: 12kg, 20kg, 24kg, and 40kg. Sumo style all the way!

The Metronome was a great change up for the core training routine. Keep your shoulders down, your legs straight, and stop holding onto the edge of the mat!

The One Arm Kick Thrus while holding a kettlebell definitely were a crowd pleaser. Keep your eye on the bell!

The Sit Thru’s are combo of a Front Plank and a Seated Pike. You shoot your legs between your arms to move from one position to the next, back and forth, back and forth. Long arms help, but a strong set of abdominals, hip flexors, and shoulders are better.

Tonights Mystery Event was a Fight Gone Way Wrong. 60 seconds at each station with a heart rate incentive set at a whopping 97%. That’s right, if you can’t get up to 97% of your max, you don’t get to take a break. A brutal ass kicking.

   We are two weeks from Test Day! Don’t no time off yet!

See you in class!
Coach CWall


Strength Promotes Confidence: Foundations 1/26/12

Hey there,

   Today was the last day of SPC Foundations. We added some more hip work to help everyone’s range of motion and stability, whether it be for indoor climbing and bouldering, skiing, or mountaineering. We got in a lot of sets today: 5! Everyone was a shade of crimson darker by set 4, and set 5 was a pressure cooker. Nice war face everyone!

The Hip Extension and the Hip Abduction were the new kids on the block this week. Not too complicated. Remember, everyone should be able to crush a walnut with their butt by the end of the winter. There will be a test. . .

Next week we are changing things up: SPC: Feats of Strength! We are going to reduce our number of exercises, drop the reps, up the weights, and add some other format changes to help get everyone solid and resilient. This will be a 4 week cycle, so don’t miss out.

And by the way, I put the workouts up so that you can do them on your own. No more of this once a week crap. It’s time everyone put in some more personal time in the weight room!

See you soon!

Coach CWall

Competition Strategy at the BCS

The Boulder Climbing Series is a very social and user friendly competition series.  It is a great way to get into sport climbing competition, test yourself to see how your winter training is going, or just get a great workout and hang out with friends.  But make no mistake, it is a competiton.  There are rules, scorecards, and prizes.  And let’s face it; there is something about the word “competition” that puts a little edge on things.  Often enough, the pressure from even the most casual of events is enough to frustrate our efforts.  Here are four things to think about that will help make your BCS experience more fun.
#1 Understand the rules.  Sounds like a no-brainer, but not knowing the rules is a very common, very frustrating mistake.  Fortunately this pitfall is totally avoidable.  Make sure that you are there for the Rules Meeting at the beginning of every competiton.  Don’t be shy about asking questions.  
#2 Get enough scores on your card.  Sounds simple, but you would be surprised at how many people miss this one.  At the BCS we usually take your top 3 routes and add those points together for your final competition score.  If you only have 2 routes completed by the end of the event, one of those three scores will be a ZERO! 
It is amazing how quickly 3 hours can zip by.  I usually tell my athletes to be ready to go as soon as the competiton starts.  That way they can get points on their score card sooner rather than later.
#3 Warming up on competiton routes and non-competition routes.  This is a biggie.  Time and comp routes are limited.  Should you warm up on competition routes or on the other routes scattered throughout the gym?  The advantage of warming up on comp routes is that you help to ensure #1, getting enough scores on your card.  The disadvantage is that you will have to wait in line for your turn, which may take a while.  
If you want to really play it well, put your score card in the queue and do a little bit of timing math.  It takes 4-5 minutes for one competitor’s turn at bat.  If there are 5 people ahead of you in line, and they are all successful on the route (a big if sometimes) we are talking about 20-25 minutes of waiting.  While your score card is in line, you can be off warming up on a route that is not part of the competition.  Just make sure that you make it back in time.  
#4 Watch other climbers.  This is a REDPOINT format competition.  That means that not only do you get to try routes more than once, but you also get to watch other people climb them.  Other than climbing it yourself, watching other climbers is the most valuable source of information about a route that you will get.  Use it.  
There are always several BRC staff around to help you get the most out of your competition experience at the Boulder Climbing Series.  Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions or if you need something.  This competition series is for you, and we are here to help.